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Pondering the Mystery
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, the birth of your Son is drawing nearer. As you make yourself present to me today in your word, open my heart to be nourished by your grace, strengthened in trust by your love, and able to respond freely and lovingly to your invitation to my heart. Mother Mary, be very close to me and pray for me and with me.
- A New Grace: The liturgy presents this very familiar passage to us so that we may consider it anew. Were we to read this story every day, we would not exhaust the riches Our Lord has placed there for us. “For such is the depth of the Christian Scriptures that, even if I were attempting to study them and nothing else, from boyhood to decrepit old age, with the utmost leisure, the most unwearied zeal, and with talents greater than I possess, I would still be making progress in discovering their treasures” (St. Augustine). May we consider once again with the eyes of faith this moment when the history of the universe depended on a young girl’s answer to God and was forever changed by her generosity and God’s great grace.
- Pondering: Advent and Christmas are seasons for pondering; they are seasons for simple, quiet awe. As the world outside may be covered in quiet blankets of snow or chilled, glittering frost—let us not be afraid or too impatient to sit in silence and ponder. Let us learn, here, from Mary, that it doesn’t matter if we grasp it all or not; it is more a mystery to be contemplated than to comprehend. Perhaps the Lord wants us simply to receive and be docile in these moments of prayer, as she was, trusting each step along the way that he will give what we need.
- The Holy Spirit Will Come Upon You: God was faithful to his promise to Mary. Not only had God fulfilled the deepest desire of her heart, but he was fulfilling his promise to his chosen people. In her, he is faithful to all the promises he made to the chosen people recounted in the Old Testament and to each of us. As Christmas draws closer and our journey to the mangerside is reaching its final days, let us unite our hearts to Mary and find strength in her fiat to offer our own as a gift to the Christ child. He promises to send the Holy Spirit. How do we wish to receive him?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, your coming on Christmas is drawing so near. Help me to continue preparing my heart to receive you, to take you in my arms and heart, as Mary did, to be in awe of the goodness of our God who would bow so low for love of us, and to respond generously to whatever you may be asking of me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to give you “space” in my mind and heart, in my interior, to reveal or inspire where and how you are asking for my “fiat,” as you did Mary’s.
For Further Reflection: You may find this song helpful for your prayer and Advent preparation, Be Born in Me, by Francesca Battistelli.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.
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